Looking for Diversity? Look for a Difference of Opinion Not Value.

Paul Hebert Culture, Diversity, Innovation, Paul Hebert

OpinionToday’s market place moves quickly.  Almost too quickly.  Making a living, making a profit requires individuals and companies to think fast and adjust course with cheetah-like speed.  Innovation is the “new normal.”  (I just needed to throw in the newest overused phrase to feel like a business hipster.)

Innovation is a function of diversity.  Innovation almost always comes from an amalgam of ideas that create something new and different.  In other words, you need people in your company that think differently than you.

But you don’t want people who ARE different from you.

Opinion VS Values

Opinions are beliefs and judgments not based on certainty; held with confidence but without proof. Opinions are the raw materials of innovation. Opinions are what lead us down the path to proofs which lead to facts. Different opinions are required for innovation. Values are beliefs in which we have an emotional investment. Values are consistent. Values are the foundational blocks on which we act. Values define us. Opinions can change. Values usually don’t. Something huge has to happen to realign values, but the introduction of a new fact can change an opinion.

Why spend so much time on definitions of the terms opinion and values?

Simple. Hire for differences of opinion not differences in value.

Too often we seek to introduce “new blood” into an organization to help us up the innovation quotient. Good plan.  We want and need people with different points of view.  Different opinions.  That’s good.  But don’t confuse a difference in value for a difference in opinion.

Similar values are required for a strong, ongoing organization.

Different opinions are required for innovation.

Very different.

Why Do You Have That Opinion?

Often in our hurry to inject diversity, we listen for people who have different ideas than ours – different opinions.  But we gloss over the foundation for those opinions.  Are their beliefs based on available information and some mental extrapolation leading to that opinion?  Or are they driven from a different set of values?  Are they “emotionally invested” in that point of view?  Could you sway their opinion in the interview?  If not – it’s probably a values issue and you want to be sure their values and the company’s line up.

Ask the questions that dig deep into the reason people hold their opinion.  Find out if they have different values – or if they just have a different opinion.

Similarity in values – differences in opinion.  That’s what you really want.

But this is just my opinion.